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Wellmark’s COVID-19 response update

What's happening now

As the COVID-19 pandemic in Iowa and South Dakota evolves, Wellmark continues to update how our health plan benefits work, so you can feel secure.

  • We continue to offer no-cost COVID-19 testing related to the diagnosis of COVID-19 when ordered by your doctor.
  • We are paying health care providers the same amount for seeing you in an office setting or a virtual visit through Oct. 31, 2021.
  • Wellmark members can get the COVD-19 vaccine, including booster shots when available, at no cost.

Every shot counts

Our communities are still living with COVID-19. The most effective and important way to start moving back to a sense of normalcy is to get vaccinated.

Wellmark members can get the COVID-19 vaccine including booster shots as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for free. And you can do it with peace of mind knowing the vaccines:

  • Help your body and immune system to defend itself against the virus
  • Are shown to be highly effective at preventing serious illness from COVID-19 and the various variants like the widely circulating Delta
  • Underwent extensive research and recent trials with thousands of participants
  • 384 million doses of COVID vaccine have been already administered in the United States

To find out where and when you can get vaccinated visit External Link or External Link.

To learn more about the COVID-19 booster shot, we encourage you to review the CDC's frequently asked questions External Link.

The COVID-19 vaccine for herd immunity

Join your community

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield worked with Des Moines-area community leaders to highlight the importance and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. Here's what they have to say:

Alba Perez

Latino Community Leader

En Español External Link

Bo James

Executive Director, Hip-Hope Inc

Izaah Knox

Executive Director, Urban Dreams

Nu Huynh

Executive Director of the Iowa Asian Alliance

Hear from Wellmark's expert

Listen to Wellmark's Chief Pharmacy Officer Matt Hosford talk about the COVID-19 vaccine safety and the importance of getting our communities vaccinated.

Matt Hosford

Chief Pharmacy Officer

Your questions, answered

We've also put together the following information to answer questions you might have. If you need more help, please don't hesitate to call us at the number on the back of your Wellmark ID card. You can access your plan information, like coverage and claims, anytime. Just log in to myWellmark.

COVID-19 vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or been approved by the FDA External Link, will be covered at no cost share through the Cares Act.

Once a vaccine is authorized or approved by the FDA and receives an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendation on its vaccination index, it will be covered as a preventive service through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Preventive services benefit.

The COVID-19 vaccines currently available were proven to be highly effective across diverse races and genders. So, across the U.S., every family and neighborhood can expect the same effectiveness and protection.

COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same rigorous safety assessment as all vaccines before being authorized for use in the U.S. by the FDA. When it comes to safety, you can be assured there have been no shortcuts. The unprecedented speed of the COVID-19 vaccines was due to multiple factors, including past research into these types of vaccines. COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Research was already underway to prevent past coronavirus diseases such as SARS and MERS and that experience helped jumpstart work on our current vaccines. When the current pandemic hit, scientists were able to build on their past research to develop the COVID-19 vaccines in use today.

Health experts recommend the COVID-19 vaccine even for people who have had a COVID-19 infection. Although infection likely provides some immunity to reinfection, we don't know yet how long natural immunity lasts. So, it's important to still get vaccinated even if you've had COVID-19 to reduce the risk of reinfection—to protect yourself and others around you.

Immunocompromised people are eligible and encouraged to get the COVID-19 booster dose (third dose of vaccine) now. The CDC is currently developing recommendations for all others to receive a booster shot.

Wellmark recommends you talk to your primary care physician about when you should receive your booster shot. To learn more about the COVID-19 booster shots we encourage you to review the CDC's frequently asked questions External Link.

Yes, we will continue to waive cost shares for testing and related services through the end of the public health emergency as declared by the federal government. The test must be ordered by a healthcare provider after the provider individually assesses the member and decides a test is medically appropriate based on the member's circumstances. Your health plan does not cover return to work/return to school/return to other activity testing, and it does not cover tests that are not ordered by a healthcare provider.

Wellmark recommends checking with your primary care provider first. Most medical clinics and offices have procedures in place to get you tested safely, quickly, and with reliable results. Your primary care provider can also advise you on how to quarantine if needed or help effectively monitor symptoms given prior knowledge of your health conditions and medical background.

There are several alternate means of testing that are reliable and safe.

In Iowa, visit External Link. At this website you can find the closest location to pick up an at-home test, as well as read instructions on how to accurately take the test and return for analysis. The website also allows you to order COVID-19 at-home tests to be delivered via mail, so you can keep handy for future use. All tests are free.

In South Dakota, visit External Link. This website contains information on drive-up locations and hours at which you can have a COVID-19 test conducted. It also has instructions on how to order and take an at-home saliva test kit. Both testing methods — at-home and drive thru — are free.

In response to many physician and dentist offices in the markets eliminating or severely restricting in-person visits, Wellmark expanded telehealth benefits on a temporary basis to ensure all our members had access to important health care services. The $0 cost-share for telehealth services expired on Aug. 31, 2020.

Even though the pandemic still exists, health care providers have been making adjustments and reopening their offices, and members now have choices between telehealth and in-person visits. Beginning Sept. 1, 2020 standard benefits will apply for telehealth services.

Consistent with the federal requirements, antibody testing is covered when ordered by a healthcare provider after the provider individually assesses the member and decides a test is medically appropriate based on the member's circumstances.

All of Wellmark's fully insured and Medicare supplement plans include a telehealth benefit. If your self-funded group plan does not offer telehealth benefits, effective Sept. 1, 2020, you may be responsible for the full amount charged by the telehealth provider which is generally no more than an in-office visit.

Please note: If telehealth is not a covered benefit on your plan, the cost share will not apply towards an out-of-pocket maximum. Employees are always encouraged to further discuss their health insurance options/needs with their employer.

Doctor On Demand has contracted with Medicare and will now be covered by your Medicare supplement policy according to your benefits.

If you are experiencing a fever or acute respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please call your healthcare provider before going to a doctor's office, clinic, urgent care or emergency department. During that call, your provider will assess your symptoms and direct you to the right care.

Get a list of responses by doctors and hospitals in Iowa and South Dakota.

Get tactics for protecting yourself at home, at school and in the workplace.

  • Clean hands often and limit handshaking
  • Disinfect surfaces you touch frequently
  • Wear a mask when you are around people who don't live in your household
  • Hold meetings virtually and rearrange travel when possible
  • Know when to stay home

See the CDC's recommendations.

Download the guide External Site

Wellmark uses the guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) External Site, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) External Site, Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) External Site, and South Dakota Health Department External Site as our official sources of information. For the latest U.S. impacts of COVID-19, please see the data reported by the CDC.

Find a doctor

Search for a health care provider, hospital or clinic External Site for you or your family member. Log in to myWellmark to make sure the doctor and facility is in your network.

BeWell 24/7

BeWell 24/7 connects Wellmark customers with real people who can help with a variety of health-related concerns no matter the time or day. Just call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Get insights from BlueSM on coping with work and lifestyle changes, plus tips for staying healthy.

Doctor On Demand

Doctor On Demand External Site offers virtual visits with board-certified physicians for a number of minor issues, from a run-of-the-mill cold or flu to headaches, skin conditions or bronchitis. Physicians can even prescribe medication, if needed.

Doctor On Demand is a separate company providing an online telehealth solution for Wellmark members. Doctor On Demand® is a registered mark of Doctor On Demand, Inc.